Thursday 7 July 2011

Lightning and Imaging of Saturn's Storm

Hot on the heals of the paper we had published in Science in May (describing the atmospheric perturbations being created by Saturn’s northern springtime storm), three new articles have appeared in Nature describing the visible characterisation of the storm evolution, and the intense lightning emissions detected by the Cassini RPWS instrument.  I co-authored the article on Saturn’s storm evolution from amateur imaging, providing thermal profiles from the Cassini Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) to aid in the numerical modelling of the storm evolution.

A.Sanchez-Lavega, T. del Rıo-Gaztelurrutia, R. Hueso, J.M. Gomez-Forrellad, J. F. Sanz-Requena, J. Legarreta, E. Garcıa-Melendo, F. Colas, J. Lecacheux, L. N. Fletcher, Barrado-Navascues, D. Parker & the International Outer Planet Watch Team (2011), Deep winds beneath Saturn’s upper clouds from a seasonal long-lived planetary-scale storm, Nature, 475, 71–74  (07 July 2011) (

In addition, a team led by Georg Fischer, a radio and plasma wave science team member at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Graz, have published stunning new findings on the lightning storm, suggesting that at its most intense, the storm generated more than 10 lightning flashes per second, more powerful than anything Cassini has previously observed (  Finally, Peter Read (the head of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics at Oxford) has contributed a ‘News and Views’ section on Saturn’s storm to place these new findings in perspective (


The new images of Saturn’s storm have been well-covered by the international media, here are a few extracts:
Saturn storm pictured, Telegraph, UK